[act-ma] 04/28: If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front - BOSTON

B Evans ben.c.evans at gmail.com
Fri Mar 24 09:32:54 PDT 2017

... former political prisoner Daniel McGowan will be joining us in Boston
for this event....


*"If a Tree Falls" screening and discussion*

Date: April 28, 2017
Time: 6pm (doors open 5:40pm)
Location: UMass Boston, University Hall
(2nd floor, Auditorium Y-2-2120)
Sponsors: UMass Boston's Department of Political Science and Department of
Women & Gender studies
Cost: Free to community members and students

Film screening of "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front"
(2011) followed by discussion/Q&A with Daniel McGowan.

*About 'If a Tree Falls'*
In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a
nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth
Liberation Front-- a group the FBI has called America's "number one
domestic terrorism threat."

For years, the ELF—operating in separate anonymous cells without any
central leadership—had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of
businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies,
SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at
Vail, Colorado.

With the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked
what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the
group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country.

story of the rise and fall of this ELF cell, by focusing on the
transformation and radicalization of one of its members.

Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thriller, the film
interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life
in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his
involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about
environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Drawing from striking archival footage -- much of it never before seen --
and intimate interviews with ELF members, and with the prosecutor and
detective who were chasing them, IF A TREE FALLS explores the tumultuous
period from 1995 until early 2001 when environmentalists were clashing with
timber companies and law enforcement, and the word "terrorism" had not yet
been altered by 9/11.

*About Daniel McGowan:*
Daniel is a social justice activist from Queens, NY. He was charged in 2005
with fifteen counts of arson, property destruction and conspiracy, all
related to two actions in Oregon in 2000, claimed by the underground Earth
Liberation Front (ELF). Daniel was facing a minimum of life in prison if
convicted when he accepted a non-cooperation plea agreement. He received a
7 year sentence and did most of it in two experimental Communications
Management Units (CMU). Within a year of arriving at the CMU, Daniel with
the help of the Center for Constitutional Rights, sued the Bureau of
Prisons with the intention of closing the unit (Aref v. Sessions).

His arrest was part of what the US government dubbed Operation Backfire; a
coordinated, multi-state sweep of activists by the federal government who
charged them with practically every Earth and animal liberation action in
the Pacific Northwest left unsolved. Many have considered this round up
indicative of the government’s ‘Green Scare’ focus which had activists
being arrested and threatened with life in prison. Many of the charges,
including Daniel’s, were for incidents whose statute of limitations were
about to expire.

Daniel was released from prison in December 2012 and was on probation for
three years until June 2016. He has worked with NYC Anarchist Black Cross,
the Civil Liberties Defense Center and the National Lawyer Guild's Parole
Preparation Project. Daniel is on the Certain Days: Freedom for Political
Prisoners calendar collective. He lives in New York City and is trying to
figure out ways to fight the new fascist administration.

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